Pastor: “He should have killed you. At least you’d have died a virgin.”

I got this letter in:

Hi, John.

I became acquainted with your writing a couple of months ago and love it. I so wish I could travel back in time and hear your voice in my head while I was growing up, instead of the hard-core fundy “you’re going to hell” soundtrack of my early life.

I’ve read with great interest some of the things you’ve written about how the church treats victims of sexual violence. I just had to share a bit of my story around exactly that issue.

When I was 16 years old, I was raped at knife-point by a stranger. Not having a clue how to handle it, I decided to confide first of all in my pastor. While I was literally still bleeding from the attack, he told me (and I quote) “It’s too bad that you didn’t force him to kill you instead. That way you could have at least died a virgin.” That was the sum total of his “advice” to me—not, “Oh, you should go to the police,” or “Oh, I’m so sorry that happened to you,” or anything that might have been even remotely helpful anywhere on this planet.

After that reaction, I decided not to tell anyone else—including my parents or the police—ever. It wasn’t until six years later, after I had attempted suicide and was hospitalized for severe depression, that the truth came out. And then, only because I saw my rapist’s wedding photo and announcement in our local paper and freaked out a bit. (Well, okay, a lot.) It took me a long time, a ton of therapy, and no small measure of the grace of God to get past this exhibit of what a pastor-friend calls the “cult of virginity.”

God calls us to be sooooo much more than what happens with (or to) our genitals.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for being a voice of reason and compassion in that regard!! To this day, almost 30 years later, I harbor more anger toward that “pastor” than I do toward the man who raped me. At least the rapist wasn’t pretending to represent God. The damage the rapist did to my body and my psyche was not insignificant; but the soul-damage done by this “man of God” nearly killed my faith.

And Jesus wept.

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • JenellYB

    John, I really, truly wish I could believe, agree with you, that there is hope such a person, pastor or otherwise, that has such a cruel heart and abusive personality, “can change,” but I don’t, and can’t. A horrible, dirty little truth that will never be accepted within our society, let alone within the church. So many women have and still do live with stories of unspeakable horror of sexual and spiritual abuse they can never tell, simply because no one would believe them, believe it even possible they went through what they did, or that whomever did it could have done something so horrible to another human being. I’ve known of, been entrusted with by other women, some stories of such horrors that I can only be in awe of the strength it has taken for them to go on to any kind of reasonably normal lives. Young women, some really only children, forced to bear blame and shame for sexual abuse, even more commonly than might ever be imagined, forced into marriage to and bearing the children of their rapists, while bearing as well the scarlet letter of having played the harlot.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      Im a DA survivor JenellYB. I agree,that for a person to truly change their outlook, their mindset, and their interactions with others is a stretch. It happens, but I don’t think it is as often as it certainly should be. I know I got lousy advice from pastors, and little or no help. But I also found people who proved to be great sources of support and love.

      i also think that being silent is not the answer for our healing, or for the futures of our mothers, sisters, daughters and granddaughters. I hope for the day where sexual, emotional and physical violence against half our species is quite rare, and unheard of in the church. Only by speaking out, using our voices, telling our stories, quelling the lies and the misconception.

      What John is doing here is so necessary, as he does such a good job of dispelling the lies, while offering tangible help and hope.. I for one am grateful for his voice, and for the voice of others, who like him are working to change things for the better, for all our sakes..

  • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

    “I decided to confide first of all in my pastor. While I was literally still bleeding from the attack, he told me (and I quote) ‘It’s too bad that you didn’t force him to kill you instead. That way you could have at least died a virgin.’ ”
    This is absolutely despicable! Contrast with Jesus’ response to the woman caught in adultery.

  • Katie Rucker

    It’s things like this that made me too afraid to ever tell anyone about my abuse. Not necessarily the fact that it was a pastor, because at the time I was abused I was not religious, but just the fact that a HUMAN BEING could make such a judgement and decide that you’re trash, a liar, attention seeking, or whatever goes through their minds, made me too afraid to say anything. So I continued to suffer as I had to continue facing the one who abused me until the day he died of natural causes. The thing that hurt me more than anything was that he would act like nothing ever happened. I knew nobody would believe me.

  • Jerry Kadavi

    She was STILL a virgin AFTER the rape, IMO. It’s not like she VOLUNTARILY had sex for the first time…it’s all about INTENT. Who cares about whether or not a little piece of skin is torn? What should matter is the trauma that the rape victim went through & then helping her get through it. This “pastor” is an insensitive JERKOFF who needs to be de-ordained!!

  • Daniel Giaimo

    I don’t understand where the sexist undertone of the attack on this pastor is coming from. Certainly he is an asshole that shouldn’t be in the pulpit, but why are you assuming that the attitude that “dying is better than loss of virginity” has anything to do with being a woman? In the religious group I grew up in, if anything it was the men who were treated more harshly, and were more likely to be excommunicated for losing their virginity outside of marriage.

    • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

      That is very interesting, but I have never heard that attitude before.

      • Daniel Giaimo

        Then you haven’t been around Jehovah’s Witnesses much. Many men are excommunicated for losing their virginity. (I was, for example, and I know of many others.) And dying is certainly labelled as better than excommunication in that religion. At least if you die, there is hope of a resurrection. They are quite clear that the excommunicated have no hope.

        • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

          Very sad, but thanks for sharing the information.

  • laurenleachsteffens

    Daniel, “virginity” is considered something that females have and males don’t in this society. Your religious group seems extremely unusual, as most religious groups in the US don’t even recognize male “virginity”. (What religious group is it? I want to do more research on this because it is SO rare.

    • http://bramboniusinenglish.wordpress.com Brambonius

      As a non-American evangelical I have never heard of a concept of ‘female only’ virginity or not recognising male virginity, and neither have I ever heard (even in the most extreme ‘true love waits’ talk)) that female virginity would be more important than male. All purity talk about premarital sex I’ve ever encountered was about both sexes in a symmetrical way.

      • Dallas Jenkins

        Of course you haven’t, Brambonius, because it probably doesn’t even exist. But articles like these find the extreme minority (assuming the quote is true) and then present a case that this might be somewhat common. I’ve been part of, connected to, or indirectly involved with the fundamentalist evangelical world since I was born, and I’ve never heard ONE comment from anyone even implying that female virginity is more important or of more note than male virginity. Never heard ONCE that women are inferior to men. Never heard ONCE that a rape victim is now “damaged goods” and that it would have been better for her to die. And anyone who would say such a ridiculous thing would have been told to shut the hell up.

        • AtalantaBethulia

          Re: “(assuming the quote is true)”

          Is the same kind of “doubting the victim” about which articles like this are calling out as the antithesis of sound pastoral care.

          Re: “I’ve been part of, connected to, or indirectly involved with the fundamentalist evangelical world since I was born, and I’ve never heard ONE comment from anyone even implying that female virginity is more important or of more note than male virginity. Never heard ONCE that women are inferior to men. Never heard ONCE that a rape victim is now “damaged goods”…”

          Then you just aren’t paying attention. Plus you are a man who seems to be invested in the Fundamentalist/Evangelical worldview… so it stands to reason you don’t see things the same way as a woman would or those who see problems in Patriarchal, Authoritarian structures.

          • Dallas Jenkins

            Did I doubt the victim? I said, “assuming the quote is true,” I didn’t say it wasn’t. However, there’s a difference between doubting whether or not she was raped (of course I didn’t doubt that) and doubting whether or not someone said something that has never been heard or implied by anyone by any other pastor ever. And I didn’t even say I doubted it, I’m simply saying that to make a public case against a comment that may or may not be true as if it reflects some sort of trend or commonly held belief, and to also make a connection to an actual commonly held belief that doesn’t exist, is reckless.

          • AtalantaBethulia

            Dallas, Is it fair to say that there are segments of the Church who do a miserable job of supporting sexual abuse survivors and bringing their perpetrators to justice? and that there even appears to be a pattern of complicit cover up?

            And that Church leaders and Church people need to enact a sea change of reform on the matter of handling sexual abuse?

          • Dallas Jenkins

            There are segments everywhere that do crappy things, but no, other than the Catholic Church, of which I am not at all a part, I see zero pattern of cover up or avoiding this problem. In the evangelical community (different from the Catholic church), I’ve seen nothing but extreme support and passionate defense of sexual abuse victims.

          • AtalantaBethulia

            Re: “no, other than the Catholic Church, of which I am not at all a part, I see zero pattern of cover up or avoiding this problem.”

            You’re telling me you haven’t heard of Sovereign Grace Ministries?

            Or Jack Schapp and Hyles Anderson?

            Or Chuck Phelps and Tina Anderson?

            Bob Jones University is currently under review by GRACE for their alleged mishandling of sexual abuse and victims.

            Or here’s a headline from today: http://www.douglascountysentinel.com/news/local/article_97f6092e-4105-11e3-b7f2-001a4bcf6878.html

            Then I suggest you do some more research into sexual abuse in the Protestant Church – particularly independent ones – across America and look into the work of organizations like Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (G.R.A.C.E) and Boz Tchividjian.

            And here’s my contribution to speaking my truth to power. Those that have ears let them hear.

            http://leap-of-fate.com/2011/05/25/this-ones-for-the-girls/

            The question is whether you are too invested in maintaining your worldview or if you are willing to listen to victims and what they have suffered at the hands of the Church with a servant leader’s heart who is willing to do what it takes to be part of the solution.

          • AtalantaBethulia

            Whose corner were you in during the Doug Wilson/Gospel Coalition/rape apologist kerfuffle?

            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2012/07/18/the-men-of-the-gospel-coalition-really-really-hate-women/

            Do you realize how many ministers not so subtly preach the role of Eve in the Garden story as blame? And how often we hear about how it is our responsibility as women not to “cause” men to lust after us? And how often rape victims’ are blamed for any number of reasons?

            Why do so few Christian women (or anyone for that matter) know anything about the Hebrew Prophetess and Judge Deborah? Or the leadership and teaching role of Priscilla in the early church? Or Junia the apostle? Or the prophetesses Miriam? Or Huldah? Or Anna? Or Phillip’s four daughters? Why don’t we know the important role of Zipporah? Why were significant female stories not included in the canon, like that of Judith? Why don’t we ever hear the story of Isaac and Ishmael from Hagar’s point of view?

          • Lee

            History=His Story

          • AtalantaBethulia

            Word.

          • Lee

            If your church is that compassionate, then kudo’s to them! Just keep in mind that people have different experiences with different churches.

          • http://thethreews.wordpress.com/ Ken Leonard

            Yes, Dallas. You expressed doubt for the victim. FYI, “assuming the quote is true” is a pretty-backhanded comment. While it says that you’re assuming that, it implies otherwise.

          • ATxann

            About 35 years ago, a woman my parents personally knew, a member of their church, was raped by a stranger. I heard my father say to my mother that the woman should have died rather than be raped. Even assuming that rapists would just say, “Well, ok, I’ll just kill you and not rape you first”–a ludicrous concept–this woman had a husband, children, a family who loved and needed her. The pastor of this same church said to my mother when my father was laid off from work: “You should apply for food stamps. The n—–s” (n-word) do.” This same pastor admonished little girls in the church (pre-schoolers) to dress “like little ladies.” Although you clearly have your mind, eyes, and ears closed to it, I assure you that this kind of thing is said in churches across the nation and has been for a long time.

          • Lee

            “doubting whether or not someone said something that has never been heard or implied by anyone by any other pastor ever”
            That is a bold statement to make, ridiculous and insulting. How are you in position to say that no pastor has ever said that?

    • Daniel Giaimo

      The group is Jehovah’s Witnesses, but I’ve seen the same attitude in others.

    • AtalantaBethulia

      Lauren,

      It seems your claim of: ‘most religious groups in the US don’t even recognize male “virginity”‘ seems to be what is rare. Upon what do you base your assertion?

  • http://baldscientist.wordpress.com/ O.R. Pagan

    Powerful post and right on target… Thanks.

  • Dallas Jenkins

    To the .0000001% of people who might agree with the Pastor who made this comment, this article will be relevant.

    The notion that agreeing with Paul’s exhortation for wives to submit to their husbands while husbands love their wives like Christ loves the church and GAVE HIS LIFE FOR IT is a short and easy path to an evil comment like that is so ludicrous it’s not to be taken seriously. If it’s such an easy path, then why aren’t comments like that made more often when hundreds of thousands of pastors over the last 25 years have preached the submission passage?

    Not to mention that no reasonable pastor who preaches the submission passage thinks that women are “inferior” to men. I’ve never once heard any pastor of note, other than some wacko with a tiny congregation off the beaten path, ever say that. Ever.

    • AtalantaBethulia

      Re: “no reasonable pastor who preaches the submission passage thinks that women are “inferior” to men. I’ve never once heard…”

      Thinking and saying are two different things. Some things need not be said to be self-evident. Patriarchal societies are not egalitarian.

      Ever heard: Adam’s Rib + Satan’s Fib = Women’s Lib?

      Or the Strange Woman Doctrine?

      Wacko’s still have lots of people who listen to them.

      • Dallas Jenkins

        So you know what people are thinking?

        I believe in Paul’s scripture on submission. I am not egalitarian. Doesn’t mean “inferior.” No Christian would believe that because to believe that would mean that they believe God created something lower in quality, and no Christian would believe that.

        • AtalantaBethulia

          What passes as official doctrine belies what passes in Fundamentalist culture as unofficial doctrine and tone.

          If you can’t see how Patriarchal Authoritarian structures maintain a de facto second class status to women… I can’t make you see what you are invested in not seeing.

          • Daniel Giaimo

            Well, it puts everyone not in the “ruling” class in a second class. It is unbalanced against women, (since they can’t become part of that class), but they are also quite draconian against non “ruling” men. And, in some ways it’s even harder for the men because there is a not-so implicit undertone of “if you’re a man, and you’re not reaching out for these privileges, then what the hell is wrong with you? You must be seriously spiritually deficient”. At least the women got the benefit of the doubt due to the fact that they couldn’t reach out even if they wanted to.

          • Dallas Jenkins

            Somehow we got off the main track, which is that this story attempts to put an evil comment like this into the story of the Christian church in America being negative towards women, when in fact there isn’t a pastor in America who wouldn’t rebuke this man and call his comment pure evil.

          • Don M. Burrows

            The Greek of the submission passage does, in fact, imply “inferiority,” as does any notion of submitting generally (sub = below, which is a perfect cognate of the Greek ὑπό, the prefix of the verb the texts use). They were meant to adhere to imperial domestic ideology, so of course they’re patriarchal, as are attempts to utilize them in a way to keep women in their “proper” places.

          • AtalantaBethulia

            RE: “there isn’t a pastor in America who wouldn’t rebuke this man and call his comment pure evil.”

            Then you don’t know fundamentalism very well.

          • Suzie

            You don’t know a thing about many protestant denominations.

          • Monica Ruth Brands

            Not a single one? You must not have read all the comments from other rape victims who’ve heard similar comments from clergy or other religious leaders

          • Dallas Jenkins

            Or maybe you simply don’t know what you’re talking about because you go by your perception of a group you’re not a part of, as opposed to being inside the group itself.

          • AtalantaBethulia

            Dude, I’m sure you meet people all day long who have no idea what they are talking about. But I’m not one of them. I earned my fundamentalist stripes. I’m a card-carrying ex-member of that club. So don’t tell me what I don’t know when I’ve lived it.

          • Suzie

            Or maybe you simply don’t know what you’re talking about because you’re not a female and you have not been subjected to the very real discrimination of most organized religions. There is a huge danger in assuming you know everything and can speak for everyone who is a Christian. You don’t speak for me.

          • Lee

            Do you not realize that most people on here are ex-fundies? Myself included.

            When you say that NO fundamentalist Christians believe or teach that women are inferior then you are wilfully blind.

            I know a fundie who can’t get her husband to look for a job. Why? Because her opinion means nothing at all. She has to “submit” to his leadership. And of course she can’t get a divorce either.

            Patriarchal systems inevitably lead to abuse from those who are in charge.

            It is true that Christianity has elevated the status of women from mere property as in the OT but it is not enough. I will acknowledge that Jesus apparently thought that women were intelligent enough to talk to as in the story of Mary and Martha. But in the rest of the NT we have all that “submission” garbage and that women are inherently morally inferior because of Eve.

        • Susan

          Dallas, you say “I am not egalitarian.” Egalitarian defined: “Affirming, promoting, or characterized by belief in equal political, economic, social, and civil rights for all people.” Not egalitarian defined: “Belief in differing rights.” It is a logical fallacy to say that you don’t believe in equality, but you don’t believe someone is inferior. If your assessment is based, not on individual talents, but on a whole class of people without regard to talent (e.g. gender), then you are making them inferior DE FACTO. You expect me to agree that you have more right to demand I follow you, than I have a right to decline to follow, but feel I’m not inferior? All human hierarchies by definition create inferiors. The biblical images of the kingdom and the New Jerusalem consistently set forth a picture of all such inequalities abolished. We’re called to live that out now, not perpetuate human systems of domination.

          • AtalantaBethulia

            Word.

          • Dallas Jenkins

            “Dallas, you say “I am not egalitarian.””

            I was referring to church structure, I should have clarified, my bad.

            Within the evangelical church, women and men have different roles, but NO ONE believes women are inferior or have lesser rights.

            I “follow” my pastor’s lead in my church, that doesn’t mean I’m inferior. It’s simply structural.

          • AtalantaBethulia

            That extend to the home and a view of society at large.

          • Susan

            I know my Bible better than that. “Paul’s scripture on submission” starts in Ephesians 5. If you really study what Paul was saying in the context of the culture of his day, it was a radical call to equality. The Chapter and Verse demarcations are artificial, and did not exist in the letter as written. The clear start of the whole passage should be the last verse of Ephesians 4, “Submit yourselves, therefore, one to another.” He then goes on to address how that works out with husbands and wives in a way that was radically egalitarian in the context of that culture. In our culture, it gets turned upside down and becomes a means to subjugation.

            Your “following” your pastor is, as you say, simply structural. It is not like what women are told in the evangelical church. To be similar, you would have to understand that your pastor was entitled to more social rights than you, entitled to expect your submission to his social advantages, that you are for a lifetime banned from being a pastor because God didn’t design you for leadership, and this was universally true for all men named Dallas in all churches everywhere, for all time. Then you could claim that you didn’t feel inferior at all, and I might listen.

          • Suzie

            Well said!

          • Sophia Martin

            Separate but equal is inherently flawed.

        • AtalantaBethulia

          Re: “No Christian would believe that because to believe that would mean that they believe God created something lower in quality, and no Christian would believe that.”

          Plenty of Christians in modernity and throughout history have believed that God made “others” inferior: women, children, people of other races, faiths and ethnicities, criminals, the mentally ill, homosexuals. This is how discrimination and injustice is justified.

          • Dallas Jenkins

            “women,”

            “Love your wife as Christ loved the church and give himself up for it.”

            “children,”

            “Have faith like a child.”

            Anyone who believes people of other races are “inferior” (again, in my entire life of being connected to or part of the evangelical movement, I’ve never once heard a pastor or leader even imply that those of other races were inferior), or that the mentally ill are “inferior,” isn’t a Christian.

            In terms of homosexuals, believing that a certain behavior is sin doesn’t mean you think the person committing the sin is “inferior.” All Christians believe we all sin every day.

          • AtalantaBethulia

            Your statement ignores the realities of inequalities that exist in the world that have at times been perpetuated and born from within the Church.

          • Trena Garrison
        • http://thethreews.wordpress.com/ Ken Leonard

          Dallas, that’s just plain nonsense. God created lots of things that are lesser in quality. Some land is better than other land. There are plants that are of different uses and quality. Same for animals.

          And historically a whole lot of people have been put down and classified as inferior.

          It’s pretty darned convenient that your non-egalitarian position entitles you to tell women what roles they are and are not allowed to occupy in society, families, and churches. I wonder why someone might think that that’s putting them into an inferior position …

          Just because you say that you’re not belittling anyone doesn’t mean that you’re not. You might just not see it from your self-elevated position.

        • JaneGalt

          Paul definitely had some mental problems, primarily misogyny. He must have been rebuffed by a woman and was soured on the whole gender as a result.

    • Trena Garrison

      OK, I heard the pastor say, twice (within the last couple of years–within the same message), that women were not only to be submissive, they were to be SUBSERVIENT. That seems like a stronger word than even submissive! I literally left church struggling with tears until I could get outside. Some months later, when he was doing a message outlined with “E” words, the phrase was “Enjoy Your Equal”. I told my husband that I must have just recently gotten a promotion from subservient to equal. Never have been able to figure this out!!

      • JaneGalt

        What more proof do you need to QUIT that false church??? I sure hope you aren’t giving it any money!

    • Ellen Polzien

      I don’t think that one-sided submission is reasonable at all in a lifetime relationship between two competent adults. I also find it interesting that Christian conservatives seem not to have the parallel injunction to spouses to “submit to one another out of love for Christ” in their Bibles. They cherry-pick the less inclusive phraseology in order to further their misogynistic “complementarian” vision of gender politics.

    • Lee

      Do you live in a cave? Practically every TV preacher says this stuff and the bible says it too. Women are not to speak in church because of Eve’s sin and they will only be saved by childbirth. Do you honestly think that is not saying that women are inferior?

      Even if it is not said specifically by many fun-gelical preachers it is implied. Pat Robertson blames women if their husbands commit adultery. She should have been a better wife and besides men are men and their eyes wander.

      Mark Driscoll says it is a sin if women refuse to give their husbands oral sex. A nice rape apologist there! In fact marital rape has never been considered a crime in Christian theology. The man has sole access to her and she cannot refuse.

      There are plenty of ministers who tell women to stay in physically abusive relationships since it is their job to change the man by her “Christian gentle ways”. I know one woman who almost died from that “advice.”

      Now instead of saying women are inferior they just use another more politically correct term which means exactly the same thing: “complementarianism” .

      • buzzdixon

        Well, in all fairness, Lee, the pastors on TV are not in it for purely altruistic reasons. They like the fame, they like the fortune, they like the control. None of this precludes them from doing some good in promoting the gospel, of course, but it does leave them vulnerable to their own drives & ambitions (and lord knows we’ve seen too many of them fall victim to their own desires).

        • Lee

          Oh I know they are in it for the money, but I am referring to Dallas saying that no one of consequence teaches this stuff. And this is important because people listen.

          You seem to imply that they are doing some good stuff anyway but I disagree. They preach a gospel of hate towards almost everyone and it is tied into right wing politics. The message is basically that other “ungodly” people are trying to usurp the rights of conservative white Christian males. So that includes women, gay people, minorities, the poor, the disabled, people of other faiths or no faith at all, liberals, scientists, etc.

          I am not just talking about the ones that I cited. If you go to the People for the American Way website and click on Right Wing Watch they have plenty of videos of these preachers.

  • Ree

    Will Christians please start realizing that clergy DO NOT SPEAK FOR GOD?

    • Gary J Parker

      no-one does.

    • joseph66

      Well, theorically we can thanks to the Holy Spirit, but this is obviously not the case, since it’s not about hurting others.

    • Andy

      I think it’s more important that non-Christians realize that clergy don’t speak for God. Some “Christians” have been very good at making enemies of God with their perverse crap that Jesus wouldn’t approve of.

  • Ree

    I’ve had a preacher tell me I was going to hell because I considered reading a “wrong” version of the bible. My church read the King Jame’s Version and I had asked what so so different about the Catholic bible that they were two different versions. Seriously?

    • motherunit

      There are way more than two versions of the bible. More than 50 in English alone. That in itself is enough to make it suspect.

    • Lee

      The only versions that can have any claim at all to be right in the academic sense would be the ones in the original languages Aramiac and Greek.. We have better scholarship than we used to, so we are getting better translations now. However what we have are copies of the originals and even though they are in the original languages, they have been tampered with and contain stuff that is not present in the oldest manuscripts available.
      Probably the reason he condemned the KJV is because it is the protestant version. I doubt that there are any huge differences. Ironically most fundies insist that only the KJV is correct, despite the fact that the language is so archiac that in many cases the words do not have the same meaning as they do today. It isn’t quite as bad as Shakespear, but close!

      • Ree

        Considering none of the preachers have an actual original copy, I would say none of them know squat and can’t say which one is “correct”, only which one they feel best agrees with their own view.

    • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

      In the church I was raised in, we burned Bibles that were not KJV. We didn’t go looking for them, but if they came into our hands we burned those evil books!

  • Ree

    I’m offended by religious people who insist that God is as misogynist, racist, classist, xenophobic, and homophobic as they are.

    • Gary J Parker

      read your bible Ree, he most certainly IS exactly as these douchebags portray him. I’m speaking of the bible god, not whatever cherry-picked version some christians use to distance themselves from the reprehensible filth that is biblical christianity. Own it or leave it. simples.

      • Erica B

        The problem with this is that the bible itself was cherry-picked by people who wanted to promote their own propaganda and cement the idea that the king is chosen by God so no one should question it or they would go to hell. The bible as it exists was created out of a mass of religious teachings and text that were all over the place in the early Christian days. Some of these texts were completely contrary to others. The bible for what it is worth is a man made item. I know some people think otherwise but it’s hard to fight the facts with what is known about the bible’s construction. So I believe rather than it being an issue of cherry-picking certain parts to distance oneself for a “reprehensible” faith it is simply an attempt at sorting the good from the crap. This is not easy to do without a set text and means that we have to soul search and do our best. However when my day comes I will happily stand before God and say I did my best take it or leave it.

        • Gary J Parker

          i came, after 30 years evangelical, to realize that I had over those years rejected so much of the bible as fable, myth and falsehood (or simply morally defective) that a) it (the source document for all things faith related) certainly wasn’t “The Word of God” as I had been taught all those years, and b) so little was left that I could see as reliable I realized that I had been worshipping a myth all along. The whole edifice crumbled away like fine cobwebs in a spring breeze. I even tried to find my way back but it was gone forever. I have been an atheist for two years now, it was the only sensible conclusion. When Adam and Eve are mythological creatures, then original sin is also a false concept and therefore no saviour is required since there had been no fall of man. That being said, if the words of the possibly mythological jesus comfort you or lead you to do good to your fellow man, I have no particular argument with you. I no longer believe in the judge, since I will be truly deceased and my consciousness and being will, as far as I can tell, not survive my death. I’m ok with that too.

      • buzzdixon

        God only speaks out loud to multiple earwitnesses once in the OT (delivering the Decalogue from Mt Sinai); Christ’s public teachings are quoted extensively in the Gospels. I’ll give you a nickel if you can show where they are “misogynist, racist, classist, xenophobic, and homophobic”

        • Gary J Parker

          so Buzzdixon, we can happily ignore all of that old testament stuff then? Leviticus and the rest of that morally bankrupt rot? Last I checked, it was all “the Word of God”? You see this is the cherry picking I was speaking of. Once you commence disassembling the thing, the binding doesn’t hold up well at all. ;-)

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            So which of the old testament holy days do you adhere to? Do you stone your children if they are disrespectful? Do you forgive people’s debts after seven years, insist your wife sleep elsewhere during her period then go through a ritual cleaning before being allowed in your presence?

          • Gary J Parker

            as an ex evangelical now anti theist atheist, I can assure you I adhere to none of it. I was, by my post, attempting to demonstrate the hypocrisy of the average cherry picking christian. The book is “the Word of God” or it isn’t, either one follows its teachings or one doesn’t. One cannot have one’s cake and eat it too.

          • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

            Gary, you have mentioned cherry-picking several times. Twice you made statements such as: “The book is ‘the Word of God’ or it isn’t, either one follows its teachings or one doesn’t. One cannot have one’s cake and eat it too.”
            I have two responses. First, as an ex-evangelical turned atheist you seem to have taken one of the most mistaken aspects of evangelicalism with you: that the Bible can only be accepted, or rejected, as a unified, inerrant book.
            This seems a rather narrow view to me, whether it comes from a fundamentalist Christian or a fundamentalist atheist.
            My second response is a question. If you read a large compilation of philosophers from a 2500 year period, do you accept them all? If you do not, do you then throw out the entire book? In fact, do you not cherry-pick which philosophers you agree with and which you do not?
            I contend that it is no different with the Bible. Some is ignorance and superstition, while some is genuine treasure. The problem is, we have to use our reasoning abilities to respond to the Bible instead of using the Bible as an authority for our reasoning.
            It is more work to think about the Bible than it is to accept it as an authority or to reject it as of no value. You might indeed reject it all, but it should be on a stronger basis than challenging the validity of ‘cherry-picking’.

          • Gary J Parker

            reject some of it and you haven’t a leg to stand on when it comes to it’s alleged authority to be any kind of guide from above.Who are the judges on what is bronze age backward tripe and what is the commands of a god. I remain unconvinced, to say the least. I reject it’s so-called authority in its entirety, in the same way that if someone came to me and told me LaoTzu was getting his info from upstairs I would reject that conclusion. No-one, anywhere, ever, speaks for god or gods, anyone who claims they do is a charlatan.. It’s simply another book. Nothing in it convinces me that it is worth spending any time with other than as a historical curiousity, to be honest. Anyways, I’m out of this conversation as we differ considerably in our approach to ancient literature. It’s been fun but cheerio for now. In my opinion, the bible has no greater authority than any other book written by men: Zero. Some nice moral platitudes here and there, but certainly no treasure trove of wisdom, by any means, the gems could probably be encapsulated in a few paragraphs. The dross, however, fills volumes. cheers.

          • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

            Cheers.

          • buzzdixon

            I sure can, Gary. First off, as I pointed out, there’s only one instance in the OT where God speaks out loud to a large number of witnesses who can compare notes; every other occasion it’s a prophet / poet / philosopher / preacher telling people what he (rarely she) felt God inspired them to say.

            We know from explicit texts in the OT that God does not inspire all people in the same fashion, not does He manifest Himself to them in the same manner.

            We also know that the Bible documents Moses not once but twice changing or adding to stuff God told him to say, so if he’s documented as doing it twice, it’s fair to look at everything else that he says God told him to say & compare it w/the Decalogue. If it doesn’t synch perfectly, we need to compare it with the teachings of Christ (whom Christians believe was God made flesh, of course). If it still doesn’t synch up then we should compare it w/other OT prophets and see if they synch up w/Decalogue & Gospels or w/Moses. Whenever Moses says something that doesn’t synch up 100% w/Decalogue or Sermon on the Mount, it’s reasonable to assume it was from Moses more than it was from God.

            The voice speaking from Mt Sinai is the same voice that speaks the Sermon on the Mount. It is not the same voice that issues literally hundreds of purity commandments. One voice is divine, the other is human.

            (And besides, the OT laws are done away with, kaput, finito, gone. Period. Christ fulfilled the OT covenant [i.e., the contract, which is what the Decalogue actually is according to God, not ten commandments as humans think] via his death * resurrection. The OT law has been done away it, the OT covenant is no more. It has been replaced with a new covenant: Love one another as Christ loved us.

          • Lee

            An interesting perspective.

          • Gary J Parker

            I’m sorry, but that’s cherry picking on a massive scale and a large part of why I rejected the whole ball of wax after thirty years a believer..

            “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law, till all things be accomplished.”
            Anyways, I came here not to debate biblical theology, for I do not believe the book anymore to have authority whatsoever., anymore than I believe the Bhagavad gita or Qur’an is a guide to my or anyone else’s life.
            But do carry on.

          • buzzdixon

            “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law, till all things be accomplished.”

            Preeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeecisely.
            A law can not be fulfilled or accomplished: It is a boundary. Boundaries can be eradicated or changed, but they can’t be fulfilling. There’s a boundary between the US and Canada; one side belongs to one country, the other side belongs to the other country. How can that boundary be “fulfilled” or “accomplished”?

            But a contract (i.e., a covenant)…ahh, there’s a different matter. A contract can be fulfilled; the terms laid down can be accomplished. God did indeed fulfill His part of the bargain and made the Israelites (thru their descendants the Jews) a special treasure that brought a blessing to the world in the form of Jesus Christ (whom we Christians believe to be God made flesh).

            With Christ’s death and resurrection the old covenant was at last fulfilled (that’s what Christ referred to re “It is finished” while on the cross). Replacing it is Christ’s new covenant: Love one another as I have loved you.

      • joseph66

        Jewish culture =/= Christian commandments

        • Gary J Parker

          huh? what the frick is that supposed to mean?

      • Ree

        I’m not exactly what one would call a “christian”. As a matter of fact, I believe the bible God is just what the WRITER of the bible thought of as God. Just because some guy is literate enough to put some words together into a book, doesn’t make the book divine.

  • Jennifer L Smith-Clark

    I am so happy to be an atheist right now. Scratch that I am happy to be an atheist everyday.

    • joseph66

      Cool. I am a Christian, not totally happy yet, but at least not empty and materialistic.

      • Oswald Carnes

        What does being empty and materialistic have to do with being an atheist? Or were you just being a jackass?

  • kerryberger

    Excellent article and a harrowing tale. The way ministers and pastors portray God as a vengeful being is simply a ploy to control others. Sadly, things have not improved much for clerics since the Middle-Ages among some of these sects. To be free of the guilt, misogyny and arrogance is genuine freedom.

  • Matt Begley

    There are times like this moment, when I feel shame for being a male… for being a member of the same species as those who could something like this for their own pleasure. Those who commit such acts should be removed from society, permanently, their victim(s) never having to worry about seeing their attacker free.
    That being said, The biblical god is not only misogynist, racist, classist, xenophobic, and homophobic, he also condones and even encourages rape, kidnapping, slavery, murder and even genocide. Coincidentally, those happen to be the cultural traits of the men who existed 2000 years ago in the region where the Jesus myth is said to have occurred. Fortunately, there is no evidence that such a being has ever existed. If he did, worship would be the last thing he would deserve. There is, however, substantial evidence that those who wrote the biblical texts fit this description perfectly. God was created in mans image… This, of course, facilitates their ability to claim that they are acting for God, no matter how vile that action is

    • Gary J Parker

      wtf are you on about?

    • Matt Begley

      WTF? You should feel shame for being stupid!

  • Sher Grotts

    I so feel for this woman. And I apologize to her the ugly ignorance of these so-called ‘men of God’. My father, grandfather, great-grandfather, uncle, 5 great uncles and a number of cousins all are or were fire and brimstone Southern Baptist preachers. Before becoming a preacher, my father was a Marine Corp Drill Sgt. Rick Santorum channels my father, in fact, they are completely interchangeable. I abhor almost everything they stand for. I was almost 40 yrs old before I was able to let go of all the hate, pain and anger of my upbringing. I don’t know how I came to be the openminded, tolerant person I am, but I am grateful. I was blessed to marry a man who sees me as a complete equal and not only “honors and cherishes” me like he vowed to do, he RESPECTS me. It is my fervent pray that every woman be respected as the fellow human being she is.

  • scribble73

    All Ministers should have Masters Degrees in Social Work.

    • ufo42

      Agreed, it would be great if they had a degree in something other than BS.

      • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

        We get it, ufo: All Christians are shallow, gullible, irrational morons. Helpful. Thank you.

    • AtalantaBethulia

      From a regionally accredited university based in mainstream psychology which does not ascribe to Nouthetic counseling.

  • JaneGalt

    Well, that’s Middle Eastern religion for you. And make no mistake—there isn’t much difference between the 3 Abrahamic religions. Islam just has a higher body count. I still can’t figure out why anyone who isn’t of M.E. ancestry would want to worship their gods, but the human mind is very vulnerable to brainwashing.

    • ufo42

      Islam only has a higher body count because they didn’t get civilized when Christianity did. All three religions would have pretty much equal body counts per member if they adhered with equal devotion to their respective scriptures. Certainly, the body count per member was more equal between Islam and Christianity during the decades while Columbus and his gang of thugs were exterminating the aboriginal populations of Central America.

      • JaneGalt

        You have a point there!

      • Lee

        You are correct on that one. Christians like to pretend that actions of violence in their religion are simply abberations. When they do not acknowledge what led to these “abberations” is in the Bible then history just repeats itself.

        As much as they malign progressives, they have done everyone a big favor by civilizing Christianity. The end of slavery and the civil rights movement is one case. But going back further to the Founding Fathers most of them had liberal beliefs which is what led to the idea of freedom of religion. Without that, we would have never been a free country in the first place. We would have been a theocracy, which it seems like what a lot of fundies want.

        In the original colonies religious people were killing each other all the time. The Puritans are one example. They instituted the same death penalties as in the OT. So if your child talked back to you then he was put to death, and anyone could be accused of being a witch.

        In essence they fled the persucution of their brand of Christianity only to come here to persucute others.

    • joseph66

      If you don’t find a lot of difference between those religions, you must study them better.

      • Gary J Parker

        30 years enough? been there done that. myths, all of ‘em.

      • JaneGalt

        Well, the similarities are glaringly obvious. One main difference is the fact that Christians haven’t been able to turn the USA into a theocracy–yet. They sure are trying, though.

  • ufo42

    Great response, John, but… as long as the Bible with all its horrific “instructions from God” is held in high regard, there will be assholes like the pastor in your story using those “instructions” to justify anti-human and especially anti-women attitudes like those. You can be a good person, or a good christian, but not both as long as “good christian” is defined as someone who uses the Bible for moral guidance. IMHO, christians who are also good people, are good only in proportion to the number of “God’s Biblical instructions” they are willing to ignore.

    • joseph66

      Don’t appeal to false dichtomies.

      Loving other as yourself and loving God over everything is our only moral rule as Christians… And that’s all the message of Christianity summarized, and all the lawscof the prophets.

      Also, the Bible does not pretend to be our moral guide, but the holy Spirit is.

      The Bible does not pretend to hide the horrible things that Jews and Christians once did, but it does mentions these things so we can learn from their mistake, as that’s the point of it… It’s not to emulate their mistakes, as you suggest.

      • Gary J Parker

        depends a great deal on which brand of christianity you follow.

      • Lee

        I think the issue is inerrancy. If people believe in an inerrant Bible then they will excuse all of these things as “God’s Will” or else deny what is plainly stated in the Bible.

        For instance the OT laws included having a woman marry her own rapist if she was not married. It was a simple business transaction where the man paid her father money. The fundies like to say that this was not actually rape and was simply a situation of two people
        “having” to get married. In other words a “shotgun wedding” They even go so far as to say that this “protected” the woman.

        As an aside there was a Muslim girl not long ago who commited suicide because the Muslims have the same rule. Gee where did they get the idea?

        They have the audacity to say that we have to take the whole bible literally and then DENY what it says!

        I am glad that at least a few Christians acknowledge the truth.

  • Revenwyn

    Ugg, yes. Even worse is when your entire church believes that you must have dressed in a way to warrant that attention. The day I was raped I was wearing my family-mandated loose turtleneck, ankle length skirt, and boots. Only my hands and face were showing.

  • Clifta Frizzell

    A friend of mine was raped and when she told her priest he actually LAUGHED at her! Despicable!

    • Lee

      Yeah I knew someone once who had been molested by her father, and not knowing who to talk to about how to stop it she turned to her priest. He gave her a bunch of “Hail Mary’s” to say and that was it.

  • dlp333

    To the young lady who wrote this letter:
    I am so sorry that you had these two (three?) awful experiences. I am glad 1. you didn’t kill yourself, 2. you finally found a voice to share your experience, which will surely touch and encourage many other women who would otherwise struggle in silence with the same issues, and 3. can now make steps towards healing yourself. You are a brave, strong, beautiful survivor. Thank you for opening up and sharing this with the world. I wish you peace and closure so that you can enjoy all aspects of your future, hopefully including healthy relationships with decent men and/or women, if you so desire. With the exception of a few words in red, I find that organized religion is just a buncha male power propaganda. I just completely reject it out of hand. We choose our thoughts, and our beliefs. I choose to believe in a God/Goddess/Entity that has at LEAST as much compassion and empathy as I do. So for me, if it has to have a face, it is the divine Feminine. Whatever you choose to focus on to bring yourself peace, I hope you find it. You most certainly deserve it. Namaste. <3

  • http://www.wideopenground.com/ Lana

    How awful. The purity culture was insanely guah

  • B.E. Miller

    May I leave this link from the Huffington Post about Elizabeth Smart speaking against abstinence only education?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/07/elizabeth-smart-abstinence-only-education_n_3231073.html

    It’s the primary reason she stayed with her attacker, because she’d been brought up to believe that if a woman wasn’t a virgin at marriage, her life had no value.

    • Lee

      It would be nice if Christians actually took all the energy they waste on denying homosexuals their rights and actually used it to address REAL ISSUES such as combating rape culture (which is also purity culture).

      Furthermore anyone in the ministry ought to take some psychology classes so they can learn to deal with people who are in pain. Whether people have been abused or have a mental illness they deserve to be treated with dignity And if the ministry can’t help, then they need to refer people to people who can. Being in psychological pain is NOT A SIN..

      One of the most destructive elements of many churches is the idea that if you are in psychological pain that it must mean that you don’t have faith in God. So in addition to being in unbearable pain then the person has to deal with the undeserved guilt of having “forsaken God”!

      If you are going to deal with people’s souls then you need to deal with people’s hearts as well, and those are much more fragile.

      • Slayven19

        Don’t generalize, Christians aren’t the only one’s that Deny homosexuals rights. Just say people because if people did a lot of things a lot of bad things wouldn’t be. That said I agree with some of what you said.

        • Lee

          No I never meant to imply that only Christians did that. But the TOPIC IS about Christian theology. And at least conservative Christians in this country are the the most vocal about this. I am not sure how I am supposed to discuss Christianity without bringing up Christians!

          This is not to say that other religions don’t have the same problems, but that is not as relevant to this discussion.

    • Marie

      Yes, that’s why I was guilted and scared into marrying my rapist. The church had me terrified at 16 that I’d go to hell if I didn’t repent of my sin of fornication and insisted I could have stopped it had I wanted to. Then, I lived through years of torture at the hands of my rapist while people insisted he was doing nothing wrong.

      • Lee

        That is so horrible. In this day and age that should not EVER happen!

      • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

        How terrible! Does that sound like something Jesus would say? Some people are SO misguided.

      • B.E. Miller

        I’m sorry to hear that. *hugs*

    • Pavitrasarala

      Please do not twist Ms. Smart’s words. Let’s stick to the facts. The abstinence-only sex ed she received was NOT the primary reason she stayed with her attacker.

      In fact, doesn’t even say it was a reason at all. She says it “partially informed” her decision, meaning it was an influence, not a reason.

      The primary reason she didn’t try to escape was because her attacker had threatened to go back to her house kill her family. There was a point she could hear her uncle calling out for her while he was searching nearby – Mitchell told her if she cried out for him, he’d go and murder her uncle to ensure she’d never be found. Given he broke into her home to abduct her at knifepoint, and he had previously done contract work for her family, that was more than reasonable – and terrible – fear that she had.

      Ms. Smart makes a good enough point about abstinence-only education. She doesn’t need her words distorted to enhance it.

  • Coneigh Victoria Seadial

    To the woman who wrote this letter, I am so sorry that this happened to you. Just know that you will be rewarded in heaven for your suffering, God loves you more than anything and you are washed clean by the blood of Jesus. You are beautiful and God knows that. Please do not have anger towards the pastor or the rapist. What they did was horrible and nothing at all justifies it, but Matthew 5:43-45 tells us “You have heard that it is said “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy”, But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” And to John, Matthew 5:21 and 22 states “You have heard that it was said to those of old “You shall not murder: and whoever murders shall be liable to judgement. But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgement: whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council: and whoever says ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” I love you both and God Bless!

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      Oh no. She should be angry..she should be furious that two men..her pastor and attacker looked at her with zero respect, zero love, zero kindness. Being angry is not a sin, as it can prompt people to take action, either through words or deeds to try to prevent this from happening to someome else.

      • lizmassey68

        Thank you. I think the person you replied to is afraid of her OWN anger. Plus, she is missing the point of the verses from Matthew she quotes – Jesus’ point was that it wasn’t enough to not murder; legalism never builds bridges between people. He wasn’t saying “being angry is naughty.” He was saying about his vision of the beloved community, “don’t stop with not murdering – build bridges with those you have conflicts with.”

        Anger is not something that it is good to dwell in forever, but you can’t “stop” being angry at people who have VICTIMIZED you (which is what both men did to the woman who wrote the letter) like turning off a faucet, and any sort of instant “forgiveness” that basically lets them off the hook for their harmful actions will not produce healing. Channeling anger to protect oneself, one’s loved ones, or the community at large is very constructive and very healing.

      • lizmassey68

        Also sort of weirded out by the idea that the letter writer will be “rewarded in heaven for (her) suffering.” No, no, no.

        REMOVING and REDUCING suffering in the here and now and REDRESSING the wrongs going forward – especially when the original injury involves someone using their power over someone to hurt them and have their way – is known as justice.

  • Wit

    Another shining example of how god beliefs will make you amoral or throw your morality and human decency under the bus.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Well, now, we wouldn’t want to religiously (as opposed to racially) profile people, would we, Wit? Cuz that would make us, not them, appear crazy and ignorant. Ad we sure wouldn’t want THAT, right? (Fwiw, I believe the word you’re looking for there is immoral, not amoral.)

      • Wit

        There is no need to profile anyone when the actions of the religious minded – as opposed to actions of the rational minded – speak for themselves. And yes, I meant amoral, not immoral. Amoral as in ethically indifferent to whomever their immoral dogma hurts or why.

        • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

          Oh. So you’re sticking with the “All religious people are amoral” slander. Gotcha.

    • joseph66

      Our firneds Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot don’t agree, dear.

      • Gary J Parker

        strawman. Pol Pot, Stalin and Mao killed millions, but not in the name of atheism, as you covertly suggest. That’s an old horse, stop beating it. Millions, however, have been brutally murdered by christians in the name of god. Own it or leave it.

        • Ryan Gaffney

          So it’s the name that matters? If I kill people in the name of Gary J Parker you need to “own” that? Even in you explicitly tell me never to kill people and I interpret that an instruction to kill? Then for the rest of time you, and your family and all the people that love you have to admit that Gary J Parker makes you Immoral because I killed people in your name?

          • Gary J Parker

            wow.
            strange thinking there Ryan.
            anyways, the point, although I fear belabouring it will get me nowhere, is that millions of innocent people have been butchered for many hundreds of years all over the world in the name of the advancement, purification and triumph of christianity. Specifically. I have read Foxes Book of Martyrs, The Tales of the Covenanters and Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee. Read up about the Taipei Rebellion f you want to find out the consequences of a meeting between a missionary and a madman, only 20 million perished over that.. If you deny these realities of your religion, you are being wilfully blind. On the other hand, I can find no example of anyone waging war against theism. The trashing of churches and killing of priests was done because the institutions of religion were in allegiance with the bourgeois forces that the communists were fighting. The ideology of communism was atheist to be sure but that was very much a secondary issue compared to the revolution against the power of private capital. Christians refuse to acknowledge their dire and toxic history of cultural genocide, slavery, torture, and murder, and I’m not expecting any apologies anytime soon.

          • AtalantaBethulia

            I acknowledge our dire and toxic history of cultural genocide, slavery, torture, murder and sincerely apologize on behalf of all the hell Christians have wrought on humanity personally and in the name of God and Christianity – ever.

            No apology can make up for that. Only people owning the truth of the past and committing to not allowing it to happen again can make any meaningful difference along with proactively working for a more just, verdant, equitable and peaceful world.

            The point, I think, folks are making in the comparisons here are that the egotism that drives totalitarianism – no matter for what cause – is no respecter of supernatural belief systems of lack thereof.

          • Lee

            Thank you!

          • Ryan Gaffney

            Indeed Christianity has been around for a long time and a lot of people have responded to it in bad ways as well as good ways. Actually there has been quite a bit of apology for the bad ways throughout history and there continues to be, see Pope Francis. But at the moment I feel like to move on to reconciliation would be to let you off the hook. God said “Thou Shalt Not Kill” jesus said “Love thy Neighbor” the fact that people hated and killed their neighbor “In his name” is irrelevant.

            At the very least you need to provide a warrant that connects things being done in the name of something to some sort of causation. Otherwise it’s just the same as me killing in your name while you protest and then the world expecting you to apologize.

          • Lee

            God said “Thou shalt not kill” and then told his followers to break that rule. The causation is the bible. It does not matter that this was the OT because a moral God would not act in such a fashion in the first place. Ancient Judiasm was pretty much the same as extremist Muslim theology.

            When people try to harmonize the bible then it just leads to confusion for those who try to make it inerrant. That is what leads to all kinds of atrocities in God’s name.

            Granted there are those who choose to live out the best of Christian theology but until Christians acknowledge and deal with the bad parts then the violence will continue. It is still going on today. Attacking Muslim countries that have done nothing to us is one example. Bullying and demonizing gay people is another.

            Fundamentalist Christians wanting sole control of the government is especially dangerous. Ted Cruz, Palin, and Bachman telling us that it was God’s will that they shut down the government is despicable. That was a metaphorical act of violence on the American people. But when we get into wars based on their brand of theology then we only have to go to the Bible to see where that comes from.

          • Ryan Gaffney

            Do you think God actually wants those things (hint: if you anr an atheist then the answer is “No” because God doesn’t want anything)

            Assuming we can agree that those things are not what god wants, then we can agree God is not the problem. What’s the problem. People doing things God doesn’t want in the name of god. Ok, I’ll repeat the same question you have been avoiding. if I do bad things in your name is that your fault? Does that reduce the capacity for others to do good things in your name?

          • Lee

            Nope I do not believe God wants this. But the Bible says that he does. I do agree that God is not the problem. I believe in God but do not think he has a religion.

            Certainly there are many good things that Christians do. But they do not want to acknowledge the fact that their religion inspires people to do bad stuff too.

            As long as Christians want to believe that immoral actions in the OT are okay because “God is God” and so we can’t ever question it then there are going to be people doing exactly what God doesn’t want.

            “if I do bad things in your name is that your fault? Does that reduce the capacity for others to do good things in your name?”

            Absolutely not. But to not speak out against immorality done in the name of God within the Bible then it implies that people are okay with that. Not necessarilly you since I don’t know you. But anyone who claims the Bible is inerrant is condoning evil acts as well as good acts and that creates very bad theology which people then act on.

          • Ryan Gaffney

            Sounds like we have gone a little far afield here. I agree with most of what you are saying. I think we have different definitions of the word “inerrant” but basically yes you can’t go around reenacting the Old Testament. I has originally responded to the thread that said “Another shining example of how god beliefs will make you amoral or throw your morality and human decency under the bus” it sounds like we are united in believing that statement was false.

          • Lee

            Well to be honest I do agree with him somewhat. Not that a belief in God leads to amorality, but belief in a religion that places authority outside of one’s innate morality. People can be made to do incredible acts of evil as long as someone says it is what God wants. That kind of belief is in large part responsible for Hitler’s Germany. He used Christian rheoric to seduce the masses.

          • Ryan Gaffney
          • Lee

            Ryan do you know why I played the “Hitler card”? Because Christians do it all the time claiming that he was an atheist and so therefore atheists and those who are not Christians are evil. But the fact is that Hitler identified himself as a Christian in Mein Kamf and speeches. He was a creationist who believed that Aryans were the Adamic race and other “inferior” races were created separately. He felt he had a divine mission to eleminate the Jews.
            He was a member of the Christian Socialist Party. Germany was a Christian country and there was no way he could have gotten into power unless he used “Christian” arguments.
            You may debate on whether he was a “real” Christian, but my point is that people blindly followed him based on Christian rhetoric.
            This is an example of why it is bad to not question religion because it leads to stuff like this. One time a mentioned to someone about the mostly ignored case of a virgin girl who was made as a human sacrifice by her father in exchange for getting God’s help to win a battle. (Judges 11:29-40 NLT) This was the deal he made with God prior to winning it. And unlike Abraham and Isaac God did not stop him. The response was “Well he could not have disobeyed God, could he?

          • Gary J Parker

            EXACTLY.

          • buzzdixon

            #1 — God on Mt Sinai said part of the deal w/Him was for the Israelites (collectively & individually) to act in a manner that would be a credit to their parents. The minimum basic standard to be a credit to one’s parents (regardless of whether they deserve it or not) is not to be a killer, a person who betrays one’s spouse, a thief, a liar who perverts justice, or to want things you are not entitled to have (such as stuff belonging to other people).

            #2 — The Decalogue is a covenant (i.e., a contract) in which God promises to be the God of Israel & make them His special people =IF= they want God to be their god; if they don’t want to follow God, hey, no problem, lotsa luck on your own, fellas. There is no threat of punishment, no enforcement mechanisms, no jurisdiction established (God does warn them to not worship other gods or invoke Him frivolously b/c He he will not protect those who do so; the language used is “visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children” which is =not= synonymous w/actively punishing someone but rather letting them suffer the consequences of their own misdeeds)

            #3 — Moses is documented not once but twice in the Torah as adding to or changing stuff that God inspired him to say, so his reliabilty as an earwitness is fairly called into questions. Compare the elegance & simplicity of the Decalogue w/convoluted holiness rules that come later: Moses was the only person who “heard” God re coming up w/those rules vs the Decalogue where literally thousands of people heard God speak out loud & could compare notes on what He said. Bottom line: While Moses did a lot of good (“an eye for an eye” set fair boundaries on punishment vs the kill ‘em all & steal their stuff attitude of Moses’ ancestor Levi [see story of Dinah in Genesis; it's tucked away at the beginning of the story of Joseph]) he also threw in a lot of stuff that he thot was a good idea but can’t be easily reconciled w/what God said out loud to everybody.

          • robert971222

            The point you fail to get, that he was trying to make, is that you can not blame the religion for people that will twist the words and meanings to fit there own agenda.Christ never insinuated that a woman raped would have been better off to have died.The pastor that said that is basing the opinion on his own creation,not from the Bible.Thus his point is that the two have no correlation to each other.The fact that the people would use this story to try to paint Christianity in a bad light,only shows their ignorance in what the Bible teaches.

            John 8
            3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
            4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
            5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
            6 This
            they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus
            stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he
            heard them not.
            7 So
            when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto
            them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at
            her.
            8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
            9 And
            they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out
            one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was
            left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
            10 When
            Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto
            her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
            11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

            Tell me where you get the impression from this verse (of which, is about adulteress, who you would assume would be judged much harsher than a woman who was raped),that Christ attitude would approve of a woman being raped is better off dead?

          • Lee

            (Deuteronomy 22:23-24 NAB)

            “If within the city a man comes upon a maiden who is
            betrothed, and has relations with her, you shall bring them both out of the gate
            of the city and there stone them to death: the girl because she did not cry out
            for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his
            neighbors wife.”

            (Deuteronomy 22:28-29 NLT)

            “If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman
            who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father. Then he
            must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed
            to divorce her.”

            No Jesus did not say these things, but according to the Bible, God did. It does not matter that we are talking about the OT because God cannot promote anything immoral if you are to call him “good.”

          • Derrick Sam Alexander Oommen

            so according to this if the rapist is a good to nothing bum on the road and rapes somebody wealthy, she should marry this man and be under his will for the rest of her life..? or the rapist is worse a predator, who rapes many young women, that means he will have several wives.? I am sorry to say Lee u do not understand GOD the Bible is a book written by a very backward race of power hungry men there were many books written with the divination of God …. but there is a lot one can clearly see and analyze is work of men.
            God is God he is not man … he sees and understand better that U or me … he instructed man to follow some ways bak then and gave us intelligence to act accordingly he did not make us like angels or animals. he made us in his own image. He knows what kind of judgement is to be passed on different situations .
            i believe God Is love Personified, he has put us on this world that he made in 7 days and not 1 second because he loves us and took time and effort for all this because he loves us. Our sole responsibility is help others as human-beings and live a life in which we show God that what all he made for us we are content and happy.

          • Lee

            “i believe God Is love Personified”

            Actually I believe that too, which is why I do not accept an inerrant Bible. My only point is that when people call it the “Word of God” then they are basically validating actions that do not reflect who God is.

            It is pretty obvious to me that at least in the OT, immoral people made God IN THEIR IMAGE not the other way around.

          • Ryan Gaffney

            Actually the Deuteronimic code is not the the same as a command of God. it is in the bible, which people believe is the word of God, but it;s not like the passages where god says “Verily I make this covenant with you that you shall be the father of many nations etc etc” it’s not one of God’s lines in the play.

            The Deutoronomic code is a legal code for the nation of ancient Israel as devised by theocratic priests. so if you believe that the Bible is the Word of God, then you believe God said, that these priests said, these various things. Just like how God said Jacob said “my leg hurts” doesn’t mean God’s leg hurts.

          • Gary J Parker

            cherry picking.

          • buzzdixon

            The god that kills people is called Mammon (i.e., money). A lot of people who claim to be good Christians / Muslims / Jews / Hindus / Buddhists / atheists are actually money worshipers who are more than willing to killing anybody — directly or indirectly — so long as they make a buck off it.

          • Gary J Parker

            wow, are you ever misinformed. Get out a bit more. I know a lot of atheists, and they’re certainly not money worshippers. We’re done here I think.

          • Slayven19

            I know a lot of atheists and they are money and Lover of themselves worshippers :).

          • Gary J Parker

            the fact that they are atheists I think is neither here nor there, the fact is, it would appear that you know a lot of selfish assholes, you should be more circumspect with regard to your choice of acquaintances, just sayin’.

          • buzzdixon

            I didn’t say “all” atheists, just a lot of people who claim to be atheists and members of other religions. And, yes, there is no formal theology of mammon worship (unless one wants to count Ayn Rand’s objectivism, which is simply selfishness w/$5 vocabulary).

          • R Vogel

            Setting the question of the existence of G*d for a moment, I am interested in the argument that points to the millions of people who were killed in the name of religion. Do you think that without religion those people wouldn’t have killed each other, or would they simply have found some other pre-text for doing so? As you rightly indicated Pol Pot and Stalin may not have killed people in the name of atheism, but they killed people in the name of something. Scapegoating the ‘other’ seems to be a ubiquitous trait in human beings, religion provided an easy distinction, after familial group, tribal affiliation, citizenship, nationality and the good old standby power. I’m not sure how the belief in G*d is responsible for the fact that people like to find reasons to kill each other. There’s an old saying that an idea is not responsible for the people who believe it. I think a theology that sanctions killing people in its name should rightly be judged, but I’m not sure that indicts all religious belief. It certainly points to something dark in human nature, that probably has a rational evolutionary basis, fearing the other saved your life, but has some disturbing consequences in modern society. Unfortunately society has evolved far faster than we have as a species.

            What are your thoughts?

          • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

            You have some good points!

            You say: “I’m not sure how the belief in G*d is responsible for the fact that people like to find reasons to kill each other.”

            I think it can also be said that the desire to kill each other often enlists belief in G*d to justify it. However, people also kill each other because of perceived differences, and differences in beliefs in God can be very important to those who have a narrow view of God.

          • R Vogel

            Sure, what better justification to kill someone that ‘G*d told me to!’ But in the end people will find a reason to kill each other whether G*d tells them to or not. Land, money, power, water, you name it. I have serious doubts that eliminating religion will eliminate wars. But again, I don’t want to let anyone off the hook. If you think your religion justifies murder, oppression, hatred, etc you need to re-think your religion. “For many shall come in that day and say ‘Lord, Lord’…..”

          • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

            I agree with you that people will kill each other with or without God, but my point is that a misguided belief in an angry, violent God can also have an effect.

    • Slayven19

      What exactly is human Decency without god? Honestly if you take god out of the question morals don’t mean anything really, I could do whatever I want to do regardless of mans laws if there were no god. Who’d be there to tell me different or stop me other than weak fragile humans who’s laws and morals are ever changing?

  • http://alternet.com/ George Schmitt

    god doesn’t exist

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Or God does exist. No one knows for sure. No fair pretending anyone does.

      • Gary J Parker

        there is an almost palpable lack of evidence for bible god which begs many a question. Deism maybe, but revealed religion in old books? Not a chance in a mythological hell does that particular god exists.

        • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

          Wow! Well, we’d better let the 2.18 billion Christians in the world in on this breaking news!

          • Gary J Parker
          • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

            I give up! You’re powers of logical reasoning are just too great! (No, but more seriously: no one this side of death knows if there’s a God or not. Obviously, the vast majority of people have always felt there is. As you well point out, that proves nothing, of course. But what’s not arguable (not that that ever stops anyone from arguing it) is that it’s no more logical to believe there is no God than to believe God exists. I choose to believe God exists. You choose to believe no God exists. One of us is wrong. So what? As long as we treat everyone in our lives well, and try our best to be our best, we’ll both be all right either way.)

          • Slayven19

            In truth there’s more to lose by not believing god doesn’t exist. Think of it this way, if I believe in god and follow the bible I have a chance to be saved and even if I were hypothetically to be wrong I guess whatever would happen after death wouldn’t be bad. However if you don’t believe and god is real(which god is in my case) you know what you have awaiting on you for not believing when the time of judgement comes.

          • Gary J Parker

            Pascal’s wager fails. if your god exists, I’m fairly sure he doesn’t think much of disingenuous christians who only join the club to save their own skins… Being omniscient, I’m sure he can see the motives of the heart… ;-) Pascals wager doesn’t argue in favour of a deity, it merely attempts to coerce insincere worship of a deity. Oh, and since we’re on that topic, which one? Which god am I to bow to because many of them threaten me with hellfire or worse. Do you fear the hell of the muslim Slayven? If not, why not? The hell of the hindu? neither do I. I posit you and I are both atheists… I just disbelieve one more god than you do.

            The doctrine of hell is a babylonian construct adopted by the jews in Mesopotamia. It is a myth. Not only that, but it is incompatible with an omnibenevolent deity.

            Belief is not as valid a position as skepticism when dealing with unsupported or unfalsifiable claims because all such claims would need to be believed implicitly. Agnostic atheism is the most rational position.

          • Slayven19

            Yeah Yeah I’ve heard all of that before, the fact that I actually grew up not believing in god longer than I have been believing in god means your comment isn’t going to work. Also for hell to be a myth it would have to be able to be proved to be false as well which no one can do because he doesn’t even exist yet. Believe what you want but more people believe in the christian god than any other god for a reason. Besides no other bible has revelation so there’s that too.

            Regardless its pointless to argue with you because you were like me once upon a time and I thought I would never be a christian so It’d be wrong to make light of your position.

          • Andy
          • Gary J Parker

            ooooh, clever, very clever.

          • Andy

            Thank you

          • Brad

            So you are only believing in god to save your worthless a$$. I don’t think that is how it is supposed to work,

          • Pavitrasarala

            Ooooh, Wikipedia. I guess you win with a resource that reliable.

          • Slayven19

            Ridiculous! next you’ll be telling me that I can log in a change whats written.

          • Gary J Parker

            I would imagine a simple page defining what argumentum ad populum means would likely be safe… but then I’m not you.

      • http://alternet.com/ George Schmitt

        Prove it.

        • http://alternet.com/ George Schmitt

          We could have cut your pee pee off and then you could have died a virgin!

        • http://alternet.com/ George Schmitt

          We cut off your pee pee and then you will die a virgin!

      • ScienceProf_for_IdahoEducation

        I’m a little surprised. Is that really your comeback? Because I could say the same for Bigfoot. Are we really to entertain the belief Bigfoot exists because it’s impossible to prove a negative? I was having some pretty positive thoughts about your advice until I read this. Please think about this more.

  • Leahcim Heart

    Non believer and believers in God can all be buttholes. Do not single out a pastor and blame all of religion on our mistakes. That would make you stupid.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      No one’s done that, Leahcim.

    • Connie L. Roberts-Huth

      Did you read the article? Cos he pretty much did the exact opposite of what you’re accusing him.

  • Worthless Beast

    I seem to remember this story on Shore’s home site….

    Skimming the topics, GIFT at work eh? Holy freaking poo-crap. When did this turn into a story of a poor woman victimized twice into a debate about the existence/non-existence of God and the characterization of entire swaths of people? (Including, presumably, the writer of the letter, as she expressed still having her faith). Slathering orc-beasts, all, including the victim, I guess. Yayz, Internet.

    The point is, I think, about a greater sexism in our culture. Unfortunately, certain subsets of religion and certain churches feed it – are obsessed with a purity culture. It’s the kind of thing to be fought within – a-holes in authority must be ousted. Things like this happen in the secular world, too… think about some of the double standards we all just kind of culturally nod to, say, the old addage that “if a man sleeps around, he’s a stud, if a woman sleeps around, she’s a slut.” (Not even getting how weird people get toward my orientation – asexuality).

    We also have a generally victim-blaming culture. I think it subconsciously shields us from the idea that bad things can happen to us. I feel sick whenever, after some public shooting happens people go off about how the victims should have “had their own guns” or “should have bum-rushed the shooter” (I always imagine people who say stuff like that in that kind of situation, running for an exit, pushing kids out of the way, leaving trails of fear-urine, but that’s just me). With rape victims, it’s “you should have fought back harder” or “you shouldn’t have worn the clothes you wore” (nevermind what was being worn), and basically – “you shouldn’t have been a woman” when it comes down to it.

    Pheh. I don’t think Christians are atheists are better for ruling the world, or any other religious-orientation. Put women (in general) in charge for a while. Maybe we can fix it all.

  • Stephen

    That’s horrible. If there is anyone in the world that doesn’t find the pastor’s response horrific, then they are demented–whether they claim to be Christians, atheists, agnostics or any other brand of human.

  • Rebecca

    The conversation below seems to get way off point. This woman experienced horrible evil by her attackers physically and then in the name of God. To be horribly traumatized, brutally raped, and spiritually slaughtered (abuse is not a strong enough word), is pure evil perpetrated on a women made in the image of God. As a survivor of these things myself, my heart cries out for her and longs for her justice, vengeance, healing and peace. All of us (atheist or christian or of any faith) must come together with one voice doing everything we can to end violence against women in any form.

    • melissia

      Amen, Rebecca. We have to do what little we can to stop the pain from happening again, and lessen the pain that already has…

  • Ree

    People, please stop making these “leaders” next to God. THEY AREN’T. They’re often lower than the regular people in the church. The reason they even want that position is because it gives them power of the rest of you.

  • cajaquarius

    Patriarchy is the real root cause of much of these issues. I think the reason you see nonbelievers react to stories like this so vociferously in their attempts to marry it to religion, specifically, is the standard self defense mechanisms of the patriarchy itself. In order to promote and continue to foster itself, it has often thrown up straw men and decoys in the past and even does now to take our attention away from it. Think of those who blame Islam for the treatment of women or blame black people as a culture for seeming to lack direction. Normally, you can see the endgame of these defense mechanisms is to bring us back to following the lead of the masculine archetypical folks (as if that isn’t what got us in this situation to begin with). For a specific example, the people who would argue that black culture has lost it’s way also tend to argue that black boys aren’t growing up to be “real men” any more and black women are dressing inappropriately, too strong willed, etc.

    In this instance, many who would berate religion here would just as quickly be the same to make nonsensical evolutionary psychology based arguments in favor of gender roles as being built in and not simply built by society or make jokes at the expense of a rape victim then retort with “Hey, it’s just a joke – lighten up!” when the victim gets offended. Am I simply defending religion? Not at all. I have seen on more than one occasion right leaning Christians who talk about the horrible abuses of Islam against women, all the while treating women as breeding chattel. What I am saying is that there is a darker and more diabolical force underlying all of this sort of stuff.


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